2012: ZDNet's definitive guide to the year in tech

2012: ZDNet's definitive guide to the year in tech

Summary: A look back at the hot topics, major discoveries, and technological breakthroughs of 2012: from privacy to surveillance, major product launches, successes and catastrophes.


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  • Google hit by U.S., EU antitrust suits

    While the lead-up has taken the best part of two years, authorities on both sides of the Atlantic came close this year to concluding ongoing antitrust suits against search giant Google for alleged anti-competitive behavior

    Formal probes were opened against Google for allegedly 'cooking' its search results in order to favor its own services ahead of others, while pushing rival search results down the page. The investigation received more than a dozen formal complaints from a bevy of companies, including Microsoft-owned search engine Ciao!, Foundem, eJustice, Expedia, and TripAdvisor. The search company also allegedly "copied" content from other services without prior consent, and has been under the watchful eyes of both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission for the past year.

    (The U.S. FTC also dinged Google after the search company was found to have bypassed the security settings on the Apple Safari browser earlier this year. Google settled for $22.5 million, which by our count, could have been recouped by Google in just five hours.)

    Recent reports suggest that both the U.S. FTC and EU authorities will announce their plans to settle with the search giant in early 2013. Google can be fined up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover if it is found in breach of European law, which could amount to as much as $4 billion in fines. 

  • Drones, drones, drones: Surveillance on the rise

    Drones for surveillance, drones for combat killing. 2012 has seen a rapid increase in the number of drone strikes on targets in Afghanistan -- around 450 since the year's beginning -- and may other locations around the world.

    But, looking further afield to unmanned aircraft, not only are intelligence services using drones in the field and afar, domestically the number of police forces using drones are on the rise. To make matters even more complicated, the ethical issues of unpiloted aircraft hovering overhead are on the rise. Even the general public is getting in on the action

    But not all drones have been used for surveillance purposes. Earlier this year, Magnet-link sharing site and former torrent haven The Pirate Bay said it was planning to put its servers into low-orbit 'drones' in order to prevent them from being seized by authorities. How that will pan out, exactly, we may have to wait until 2013 or beyond. 

  • The PC is dead. Long live the PC!

    This year saw the all-but-inevitable death of the traditional PC. The debate argues around whether or not the PC makers can survive with the rise of post-PC devices, like smartphones, tablets, and 'phablets' -- or part-phones, part-tablets. But, the final nail in the coffin was when figures suggested that PC shipments were expected to (and subsequently did) decline for the first time in a decade.

    Ultrabooks failed to make that much of an impact, while PC industry rival Apple was shipping more iPads than any other PC manufacturer was shipping PCs each quarter. It was a tipping point that was reached where the mere tablet had grabbed the PC industry by the throat and continues to strangle it. Will PCs survive? Yes, for the next few years, but the post-PC era is certainly upon us.

Topics: Presentations, 4G, United Kingdom, Security, Privacy, Microsoft, iPhone, Government, Google, Apple, Windows 8

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  • And here is one of the story that ZDNet missed

    Why did ZDNet miss it? Because it shows apple for the company that they really are.

    Here is the order of events:
    1. apple EMBRACES html.

    2. apple EXTENDS html with a proprietary extension called Touch Events.

    3. Mobile websites everywhere start using this extended proprietary API because 95% of all mobile web traffic is done with webkit browsers (is this beginning to sound familiar?).

    4. W3C drafts a standard based on Touch Events so that ALL browsers, even those that dare to not have a huge majority, can work with all mobile web sites (is this beginning to sound familiar?).

    5. apple EXTINGUISHES the html standard by forcing the W3C to abandon the standard after apple refuses to commit to offering royalty free access to apple patents involved in implementing the standard. apple doesn't want an html standard, they want a webkit "standard" defined by whatever apple feels like including in webkit and suing the authors of all competing browser engines who attempt to be compatible with the non standard proprietary apple extensions that web developers are using because apple has such a huge monopoly on the mobile web browser engine market. This FORCES every other browser to either implement webkit or die.

    6. Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Opera, jQuery, and a few other big players contribute to a new W3C standard called Pointer Events: "Microsoft, unlike Apple, is participating in W3C's standardization process and has made the intellectual property commitments that W3C demands"

    7. Microsoft implements Pointer Events in webkit and submits it.

    8. apple refuses to accept Microsoft's patch because: "Pointer Events spec had (unspecified) problems and that there was no point in supporting Pointer Events until real Web content used it." No point in supporting a standard until real web content used it? Huh. Back when every web developer was supporting MS "standards" apple certainly didn't have that attitude.

    9. apple is given every opportunity to join in the design process but they refuse: "Another Google developer invited Apple to join the Pointer Events Working Group to help improve the specification and address those unspecified problems, but thus far Apple appears to be unwilling to participate."

    Now, before you guys freak out and respond with "but MS did this" remember that this is the point. MS did this. They got in trouble for doing it. They got slammed for doing it. So slam apple now for their Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish tactic on web standards. We were promised that apple would be nicer. We were lied to.
    • Re: And here is one of the story that ZDNet missed

      Watch out, guys, Apple is the new badass over here...
  • What about Windows Phone 8?

    It is for me one of the most worthy hardware/software release of the year...
    • Naw

      It's just you.
    • Re; What about Windows Phone 8?

      You have to be joking. This phone is a huge flop. The phone are going to have try harrder to catch Apple or Android.
      Ian Norris
  • Speaking of technological breakthroughs

    I nominate ZDNet for upgrading its comment systems to include an advanced feature set once only enjoyed by early USENET users.
    none none